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Staff Sgt. Kevin Jordan defeated 14 other players in this year’s United States Air Forces Europe Project CHEER Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament at RAF Mildenhall on Saturday. The Lajes Field, Azores, airman won a $1,000 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift card.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Jordan defeated 14 other players in this year’s United States Air Forces Europe Project CHEER Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament at RAF Mildenhall on Saturday. The Lajes Field, Azores, airman won a $1,000 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift card. (Mark Abramson / S&S)

RAF MILDENHALL, England — A lucky Lajes Field airman out-bluffed and out-witted his competition to walk away with a $1,000 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift card.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Jordan, who serves with the 65th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Lajes Field in the Azores, took home the gift card after surviving a three-hour-plus Texas Hold ’Em tournament Saturday at RAF Mildenhall. In the end, Jordan was the last player standing out of 15.

Participants played until they ran out of the $2,500 in chips they started with. They could not buy back in the game once they were knocked out.

"I’ve been playing five years. I like the rush," Jordan said. "Every player feels they are going to win."

Jordan said he plans to use his winnings to buy his three children much-needed snow gear when he transfers in the near future. The runner-up, Sgt. 1st Class David Such from RAF Alconbury, won a $650 gift card. Third-place finisher Staff Sgt. Matthew Parsons from Ghedi Air Base, Italy, won a $350 gift card.

Some of Jordan’s competition said winning at Texas Hold ’Em hinges on being able to read an opponent’s body language to determine whether he or she is bluffing.

Jordan and the other players made the U.S. Air Forces Europe Project CHEER tournament by winning the respective Texas Hold ’Em tournaments on their bases.

Players came from RAF Alconbury, England; Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and other air bases around Europe.

Project CHEER is a USAFE program designed to give airmen serving in Europe a morale boost by providing activities like the tournament and glow-in-the-dark golf.

"This is the most popular program in Project CHEER," said Paul Freund, chief of community support for USAFE.

Weekly Texas Hold ’Em tournaments at RAF Mildenhall alone draw 45 to 50 players, and the quarterly tournament on the base where winners play for a chance to make the USAFE-wide tournament has attracted up to 80 airmen and Department of Defense identification cardholders, said Andrew McCoy, club complex manager for Mildenhall.

Up to $200 in transportation costs were paid for each participant as part of Project CHEER’s budget, Freund said. Anything over that cost had to be covered by the participant’s base or by other means, he said.

Freund said USAFE doesn’t believe the tournament is encouraging gambling because the players weren’t paying money to enter — other than the fees they pay to be members of the clubs on their bases.

"In a regular poker game, the stakes go up. [The tournament] is popular because of the low risk," Freund said.

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